Education

Ways to Connect

Counselors play a big role in helping students succeed: They help with scheduling, college applications and with issues like mental health.

Since 2015, first lady Michelle Obama has honored a school counselor of the year in a ceremony at the White House. Friday, the honor goes to Terri Tchorzynski of the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Mich., where she works with 11th- and 12th-graders drawn from 20 public high schools in Calhoun County.

It's Monday, 8 a.m., and these teens have already mucked stalls in the barn and fed the goats, alpacas and miniature cows. They've rounded up eggs in the henhouse, harvested cabbages and a few green-tinged tomatoes, and arranged them in tidy tiers to sell in the Agriculture Store. Now they're ready to put in a full day of classes.

"Free" is a word with a powerful appeal. And in the past year or so it has been tossed around a lot, followed by another word: "college."

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time talking about free tuition. And this week, the promise has been taken up by one of the largest public university systems in the country: New York state's.

There are more than 80,000 educational apps in Apple's app store. It seems like a great way to encourage brain development and make your little one the smartest baby genius. But just sticking a tablet in your kid's hands might not be as helpful.

Sure, use the app. But it's not a babysitter — you've got to help them use it, too.

It's been 150 years since Fisk University opened in Nashville to educate freed slaves after the Civil War. The school's later students would become prominent black leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement.

But the small school is still grappling with a dilemma that's been there since the start: how to become financially sustainable.

Fisk is perhaps most widely known for its music, but that legacy is intertwined with money.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a proposal to offer free tuition for lower-income New Yorkers attending state-run colleges, an idea embraced by last year's Democratic presidential contenders.

The plan announced Tuesday – called the Excelsior Scholarship – would grant full-rides to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year, as long as they attend one of the state's public two- or four-year colleges.

The 24 juniors and seniors in the astronomy class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., sink into plush red theater seats. They're in a big half-circle around what looks like a giant telescope with a globe on the end. Their teacher, Lee Ann Hennig, stands at a wooden control panel that has enough buttons and dials to launch a rocket.

Every year for the past few years, I've dusted off my crystal ball and offered a few predictions for the new year. Back on Nov. 9 though, I threw out the ones I had been working on and started over. The election of Donald Trump altered the landscape for K-12 and higher education and created greater political uncertainty in the debate over how to improve schools. Here's my revised, updated list of predictions for 2017.

I was standing by the airport exit, debating whether to get a snack, when a young man with a round face approached me.

I focused hard to decipher his words. In a thick accent, he asked me to help him find his suitcase.

As we walked to baggage claim, I learned his name: Edward Murinzi. This was his very first plane trip. A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he'd just arrived to begin his American life.

We all experience stress at work, no matter the job. But for teachers, the work seems to be getting harder and the stress harder to shake.

A new report out this month pulls together some stark numbers on this:

Time to get together the transcripts and the test scores and put the final touches on those personal essays. It's college application season, again.

To a lot of students, the process seems wrapped in a shroud of mystery. What exactly happens when you send your application out into the unknown only to ... wait?

Well, here's a glimpse behind the curtain at one school.

Talking publicly about women's menstruation has long been a taboo. But in 2016 the world made big strides getting over the squeamishness. There was the Chinese swimmer at the Rio Olympics who had no qualms explaining that she was on her period after she finished a race grimacing in pain.

In San Francisco, companies will pay six-figure salaries to entry-level tech workers from all over the world. So this might come as a surprise: A public university there is laying off some of its own IT staff and sending their jobs to a contractor with headquarters in India.

Until recently, Hank Nguyen's daughter wanted to follow in his footsteps and work in tech. Last spring, she was accepted into the University of California system.

"She was inclined to take computer science and engineering," Nguyen says.

One of the most controversial questions in education has been whether preschool — and specifically Head Start — helps kids succeed as they move through elementary school.

'Tis the day after Christmas and all through the house many kids aren't stirring... They're joyfully lost in their new smartphones, tablets or smart TVs.

And it's likely mom and dad are a little digitally distracted too.

In many households, screens are omnipresent. That reality has some big implications for children. Researchers, for example, have found language delays in those who watch more television.

High up in the mountains of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Delphine Gatewood teaches special education at the Crystal Boarding School. She's dreading this winter, like she dreads every winter, because temperatures can slip into the negative digits which the school building just can't handle.

"You have a boiler system that regulates heat at one certain temperature so you can't turn it down," she says. "It gets so hot in the classroom and you have to open the windows in the dead of winter."

Subscription box services generally are booming. For a fee, these companies will send you a monthly, curated selection of maker games, dog treats, craft supplies — you name it. And one of the strongest categories in this growing market is book boxes.

If you're into mystery novels, there's a box for you. Fantasy? Romance? YA? You're in luck. There are also boxes aimed at specific age groups — for teens, middle schoolers and toddlers. And it's not just books. The boxes often come filled with character merchandise, notebooks, bookmarks and other book-inspired gear.

Ken Yeh thought his school was buying software to keep kids off of certain websites.

What he didn't know was that it could help identify a student who might be considering suicide.

Yeh is the technology director at a private K-12 school near Los Angeles. Three years ago, the school began buying Chromebook laptops for students to use in class and at home. That, Yeh says, raised concerns from parents about what they'd be used for, especially outside of school.

From Cambridge and Oxford to Lancashire and Surrey, the fees at all English universities are capped — and a new rate hike, from £9,000 to £9,250 (roughly $11,070 to $11,378) is angering critics, particularly those who say the increase didn't undergo legislative review.

By now, you've probably heard about one very real consequence of fake news — the infamous "pizzagate" conspiracy theory that ended with Edgar Welch, 28, firing a real gun inside a real Washington, D.C., pizzeria filled with real people.

At NPR Ed, we talk a lot about how learning happens because we know that's what makes school school.

Inside of those schools, though, adults sometimes have to ask themselves a tough question: "How should we prepare for a dangerous intruder?"

And the answer to that question seems to be changing.

This story was reported by Latino USA in collaboration with All Tech Considered. The audio version of this story aired earlier on Latino USA; it is embedded below.

Micaela Honorato is looking from the sidelines as boys from her after-school program take turns racing their hand-made hovercraft on a dirt field in a city park.

Companies use lots and lots of data, including your daily Web surfing, to help them sell you stuff. They follow you across the Internet with annoying ads, and the data they collect is now essential for their business.

So why aren't the best minds in higher education doing more to tap all that information to improve teaching and learning?

Now, some of them are. Schools such as Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., are wading into the data streams of what's being called "predictive and learning analytics."

A lesson in leadership illustrated by images of men only. A fill-in-the-blanks test whose "correct" answer is a stereotype: "I am a Filipino. I am a domestic helper in Hong Kong." A discussion of global warming that highlights potential "positive effects" of climate change, such as "Places that are too cold for farming today could become farmland."

These are some examples from textbooks around the world included in a newly released study about the role of textbooks by the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report.

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"This is not one of those situations where it's just smoke. There is in fact fire," said Alabama's new state superintendent of education, Michael Sentance.

The fire: Sentance revealed earlier this month that high schools there have "misstated student records ... resulting in diplomas that were not honestly earned." At a recent meeting of the state school board, he also admitted that Alabama's education department had not provided enough oversight.

DeVonte Kirkland is in his second to last year of school at Center Point High in Jefferson County, just outside of Birmingham, Ala. When he graduates next year he wants to head to Alabama State University.

DeVonte also wants a car, so he's taking some serious time to learn how to work on them. Every day, he rides a school bus 25 minutes, each direction, for an auto tech class at Gardendale High, another school on the south side of the district.

Colin Ozeki, 17, doesn't like to sugarcoat how autism spectrum disorder has affected his interactions with others, his emotions and his own self-confidence. He sees it as an issue to confront, something about himself to work on and improve in order to fully participate in life around him.

He appreciates the adage, "It's a difference, not a disability." But he disagrees with it when it comes to himself.

Ending a boycott that was sparked by the suspension of 10 players over an alleged sexual assault, the University of Minnesota's football team says they'll play in the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl. The team relented after meeting with school administrators Friday.

In addition to promising to play in the game in San Diego later this month, the team sought to clarify its position.

Part of our series, 5 Million Voices.

I grew up speaking Spanish, and I didn't start learning English until I was in preschool. When it came to books, I struggled — like many ELL students — to connect with characters that didn't look like me or speak my language.

To this day I have yet to pick up a copy of Anne of Green Gables.

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